Tasting Report: Italian Wine Masters, 2012

Sangiovese is the king of all Italian grapes, so much so that if you’re drinking a wine from Italy but aren’t sure what it’s made from, there’s a good chance it’s Sangiovese, usually 100%.

Three of Italy’s big names in wine are all based on Sangiovese: Brunello, Chianti, and Montepulciano. I was excited by this recent event, Italian Wine Masters, because it took the unusual step of putting all three under one roof (along with plenty of Prosecco, to get things going). Only these four wine regions were represented. No Barolo, no Sicilian wines, no Bolgheri.

What the event offered was the unusual opportunity to compare these three wine regions against one another, with plenty of wineries from each region pouring their wares. I barely scratched the surface (notes follow), but found the event quite eye-opening. Montepulciano gets a bad rap as “cheap Chianti,” but I found a lot of freshness in many of these wines that you don’t get with Chianti, which often comes across as dusty and a bit bitter to me. Brunello is always a mixed bag, but the wines I tasted at the event were my favorites of the day: Rich, deep, and well balanced.

The takeaway: Give Montepulciano another chance. It’s usually less expensive than Chianti and potentially a more rewarding experience.

Tasting Report: Italian Wine Masters 2012

NV Bellenda Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut San Fermo / B+ / tougher

NV Bellenda Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut S.C. 1931 / B / huge body, vegetal notes

NV Bellenda Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry Miraval / A- / lighter body, peaches, tropical character

2010 Furlan Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry Millesimato / B+ / quite fizzy, big French style

2010 Il Colle Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry Millesimato / B+ / light, sweetish

NV Il Colle Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry 46 Parallelo / A- / better balance of tropical character and acid

NV Il Colle Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry / B+ / tropical

NV Perlage Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut Animae / B+ / cheesy nose, big body

NV Santantoni Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry / A-

2007 Belpoggio Brunello di Montalcino DOCG / A- / licorice kick, nice finish

2006 Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva / A / lush, great balance

2007 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino DOCG / B+ / still young

2007 Loacker Corte Pavone Brunello di Montalcino DOCG / A / lively finish

2006 Loacker Corte Pavone Brunello di Montalcino DOCG / A- / big earth, acidic body

2009 Loacker Corte Pavone Rosso di Montalcino DOC / A / great body, cocoa powder and cola, amazing depth for a Rosso

2010 Loacker Corte Pavone Rosso di Montalcino DOC / A-

2009 Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG Bibbiano / B+ / nice easy style, lighter

2009 Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG Montornello / B+ / similar

2008 Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva Vigna del Capannino / B / bit of vegality

2009 Casa Emma Chianti Classico DOCG Casa Emma / A- / cherries, some spice

2008 Casa Emma Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva Casa Emma / B / some cheese character

2007 Casa Emma Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva Casa Emma / B+ / better structure

2009 Fattoria Nittardi Chianti Classico DOCG Casanuova di Nittardi / B+ / bit flabby

2008 Fattoria Nittardi Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva Nittardi / A- / more earth, some vegetal character

2008 Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG / A / good structure

2007 Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Nocio dei Boscarelli / A- / more acid, single vineyard wine

2007 Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Riserva / A- / needs time

2010 Casale Daviddi Rosso di Montepulciano DOC / B / quite jammy

2008 Casale Daviddi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG / B / similar

2005 Casale Daviddi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Riserva / B+ / better balance

2010 Contucci Rosso di Montepulciano DOC / A- / light body, good berry fruit, licorice

2008 Contucci Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG / A-

2008 Contucci Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Mulinvecchio / B+ / huge tannin, young

2007 Contucci Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Riserva / B / some barnyard notes, off finish

2010 Il Greppo Rosso di Montepulciano DOC / B / quite fruity

2008 Il Greppo Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG / B / tar, leather, licorice, sweetness – strange balance

2009 Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta Rosso di Montepulciano DOC / B / lots of earth, herbs

2008 Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG / B+ / better balance, more fruit

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